Do More with Less: Efficient Furniture for Mars



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The greatest challenge in the planning and design of Mars habitats is that anything delivered from the Earth must travel to the Martian surface on a large, expensive transportation system. Payload mass is always at a premium in cost and propellant. The discussion of space habitats often centers upon how the mission architecture packages the habitat for launch and landing. While building off-Earth, every space mission is intended to be cost-effective keeping in mind that every pound sent to Mars will cost around $23,000 (the Atlas V 541 of the type used to launch the 3893-kg (8582-lbs)) [1]. With the consequent dropping price of a rocket launch, manned space missions will become a frequent event.
The question about how we outfit Martian habitats with efficient furniture has not been seriously addressed yet. Earth-based Mars analogs habitats where participants imitate life and work on Mars (NEEMO underwater facility, the HI-SEAS facility in Hawaii, the Mars Desert Research Stations in Utah), furnished with wooden tables and metal-framed elements that can be easily found in everyone’s house but it is unlikely that our everyday life furnishing will be utilized in space habitats. Furniture in surface habitats is one of the main mass drivers which takes around 20-30% of a habitat volume. To foster unfolding of manned space missions, furniture must be as light as possible. The project takes a generic twenty-six-foot habitat with pre-integrated engineering systems and examines opportunities to outfit the ultimate small space of the extraterrestrial environment with furnishing elements that can be arranged in a flexible and multifunctional way. The outcome through this research is the creation of a series of flexible furniture that can transform the habitat for various use-cases, adapting to conflicting work modes (independent work, conference tag-ups, social gathering, and dining), thereby breaking the monotony of the small volume. The usage of deployable multipurpose desks, chairs, and galley fitted in the common Mars habitat increases the flexibility of the interior volume and diminishes mass, volume and hence, the overall cost of the mission. Complementing space habitats with easily maintainable materials promotes the thoughtful use of limited water resources. With the current arising interest in the private space sector, those companies that apply human-centered design to their habitats will beneficially stand out in the emerging New Space competition and lead it.



Space architecture, Mars, Furniture for Mars